Chesapeake College celebrated the opening of the 23-24 academic year with an enrollment increase and a new brand.
Faculty, staff and community stakeholders gathered for the annual State of the College address and a local leader status report where President Clifford P. Coppersmith introduced Chesapeake’s new brand and shared news of a 10 percent increase in credit student enrollment compared to last fall.
“Chesapeake has grown, and our mission has evolved with the world around us in recent years—all while the market for higher education has become increasingly competitive,” Dr. Coppersmith said. “It was essential that we assessed both who we are and how we are perceived to develop a consistent and unified message—not just visually but also in our actions.”
Chesapeake conducted a nationwide competitive bid search for a firm to develop a comprehensive new brand. VisionPoint Marketing of Raleigh, N.C. was awarded the contract. The specialty higher education firm performed the research, analysis, and creative work on Chesapeake’s brand during the last year.
Market analysis and extensive research—including community surveys and focus groups—informed development of the brand pillars and logo. While Chesapeake College used outside firms for logo development in the past, this project marks the first time the college contracted with a vendor to conduct such in-depth research and analysis.
In addition to gathering comments and perceptions from more than 1,200 stakeholders within the service community, VisionPoint led the college through deep self-reflection to build brand pillars on the foundation of the institution’s history, core values and aspirations.
The end result, Dr. Coppersmith said, is a comprehensive brand that pays tribute to Chesapeake’s nearly 60-year history as the educational, cultural and economic development hub for the Mid-Shore.
Chesapeake College Director of Marketing and College Relations Danielle Darling said Chesapeake needed a new brand that that can carry the college into the future,“ Chesapeake’s audiences are vast and diverse. We need a brand that resonates with each of these groups as an authentic representation of the College and to reinforce our unique selling proposition,” Ms. Darling said.
She added, “One of our new branding pillars is ‘connector to what’s next.’ This particular brand pillar has the most value for our students,” Ms. Darling said. “We connect students to high-quality education, to training, to universities, to employment and local industries, personal enrichment, and so much more. This reflects our position at the heart of this region and as the conduit to changing peoples’ lives.”
After all the research and exploratory work were completed, the consultants and the Chesapeake community delved into several visual interpretations of their findings, ultimately moving toward an abstract expression of forward movement, suggestive of the iconic skipjack.
“We didn’t want to have a literal skipjack, we wanted to build on this idea of connection and momentum—of meeting students where they are and getting them to their next destination, moving the community forward, one student at a time—which is really the central story of our brand.” “The idea that the skipjack, historically, was a working-class vessel with strong connections in our region was important as well,” Ms. Darling said. “We wanted to represent that in an abstract way, not only to stand out in an area that uses a great deal of nautical imagery, but to make it unique to Chesapeake College, and more accessible and approachable to our audience.”
Ms. Darling explained the negative space in the icon illustrates the rigging of a skipjack, perfectly symbolizing the connections Chesapeake helps build for its students and the community at large.
The new logo features modern hues of Chesapeake’s traditional blue and green colors, with new shades of gold and orange. A deep coral red rounds out the new brand color palette.
Five segments represent the individual identities and unity of the five counties in Chesapeake’s service region. A bold serif font blends the past and future in Chesapeake’s new visual identity.
When paired with the name “Chesapeake College,” the College becomes the wind pushing the shape forward—the force that moves students and the community forward, connecting them to what’s next.
To explore the new look, visit www.chesapeake.edu/brand